There are many wonderful titles given to our Lord Jesus Christ. In our Old Testament, Isaiah described Him as Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. In our New Testament, the Apostle John describes Him as the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega. However, in the gospel accounts, there is one humble title given to Him by friends, foes, and strangers; it is the name: Jesus of Nazareth. It would be a common expression in Jewish culture of that time to refer to a person by their home or occupation, than in a last name that we would more commonly use today. The prophets did say that He would be called a Nazarene. That is not to be mistaken with the call of a Nazarite under Jewish law, like Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, but rather a title given to Christ because of His association with the City of a low reputation. Below is a brief overview of this humble title and its significance in our Saviour's life, death, and resurrection.
One of the first acts in our Lord's formal ministry was the calling of the 12 disciples. When Philip heard Him, we went to tell Nathaniel that the one that Moses and the prophets spoke of, the great Messiah, had come. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. Nathaniel's immediate response was, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" There was some validity to his generalization, though we would be good not to follow a similar mindset. It had been over 850 years since a great man of God had come from that part of the country. He was the great prophet Jonah who was called to preach to the gentiles. Since that time, the place had become quite darkened to the things of God and yet amid the darkness, a Great Light had come. Before that day ended, Nathaniel was able to see that Jesus was the 'Son of God'. The Lord told him that he would see greater things. Nathaniel, like the other 11, would later see that a greater preacher than Jonah had come; Jesus of Nazareth.
One title of our Lord was used by the Romans in the cross execution. Pilate had it written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; 'This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews'. Pilate may have been influenced by the Jewish rulers, his wife, and the mob that day, but there was one thing that he refused to change, and that was the title given of Him. He said, "What I have written, I have written". So, our Lord dies with the title of Jesus of Nazareth over His head. A beautiful picture of His earthly association with those of low reputation that He might elevate us to the status of Co-Heirs of His Kingdom as the Children of God.
Not only was it used in His life and death, but Jesus of Nazareth was used in His resurrection as well. Mark's gospel tells us that when the women came to the sepulchre, a young man greeted them in white apparel. With the stone having already been rolled away, the person inside began his conversation by saying, 'You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, He has risen, He is not here: behold the place where He lay'. Even in resurrection, our Saviour occupies the lowly title that is now elevated to the highest status, linking God, of the highest reputation, to sinful humankind, of the lowest reputation.
Nazareth may not have had a good reputation during the life of Christ but the name in Hebrew has significance. Many scholars would link the name to the word 'branch'. It is interesting to note that in Isaiah 11, the prophet says that out of the root of Jesse, a branch would come. As we read through that chapter, we learn that this branch could not have been David, Solomon, or one of the other kings of Israel or Judah. It could only be the true Branch, that is, Jesus of Nazareth.